"Call of Duty" might be the video game industry's 500-pound gorilla, but on Sept. 17, it faces its biggest threat yet.
That's when Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software will release "Grand Theft Auto V," the first new full game in the series in five years—and analysts expect it to be one of the biggest releases of the year.
Life to date, the GTA series has sold more than 125 million copies—a staggering figure that few franchises can match. And there's no doubt on Wall Street that the release of "GTA V" will result in a huge revenue boost.
Like "Call of Duty," every "Grand Theft Auto" release is the gaming industry's equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood opening. In 2008, "GTA IV" took in $310 million, which (at the time) set an entertainment industry record, topping the first week gross of any film or music event.
Slideshow: Grand Theft Auto controversies
Fans line up for their copies of the game, with several retailers offering midnight launches. GameStop plans to open most of its stores at 9 p.m. on the 16th to celebrate the event (though it won't release the game until 12:01 a.m. the following day). Past launches have had people lined up dozens deep to be among the first to get their copy.
"It will be an inflection point for Take-Two in both the September as well as December quarter," said Colin Sebastian of Robert W. Baird & Co. "This is the vast majority of the entire company's profitability. Take-Two is a more diversified company now than it was five years ago, but in non-GTA years, they struggle to make a modest profit."